GREENSBORO — Jessica Taylor waited nearly 10 minutes for police to arrive as a stranger twice her size was outside her house going “berserk,” yelling, screaming and throwing whatever he could find at the front door.
With her children hiding in a bedroom, Taylor talked to a 911 operator.
“I kept asking: ‘Are they coming? Where are they? How much longer?’ ” Taylor recalled last week.
When police arrived at 11:23 a.m., they found 35-year-old Aaron Andrews, a career criminal with a history of drug problems.
Andrews would later die in police custody. The cause has yet to be determined.
Largely overlooked that June 17 day has been the length of time it took officers to respond to Taylor’s 911 call.
Nearly five minutes passed before dispatchers sent police to the Maybank Drive residence, in the southwest part of the city.
“I basically just watched him through the door trying to break in for 10 minutes,” Taylor said. “He was so drugged up that it was terrifying, but I don’t think he had the mental capacity to actually get in the house at that point.”
Taylor said from what she witnessed, police did nothing wrong in their handling of Andrews. Still, she said, she wishes they had arrived sooner.
“It felt like so long,” Taylor said. “Ten minutes is a long time to sit there and watch someone try to come into your house.”
When Taylor made her 911 call — obtained by the Greensboro News & Record — she told operators that a man was on her front porch banging on the door.
“It came in as a Priority 2 call by nature,” explained Melanie Neal, the executive director of Guilford Metro 911. “If he had been armed or threatening her in any way, it would have been a Priority 1 call.”
On average, Neal said, it takes a minute for dispatchers to confirm a person’s name, address, phone number and why they’re calling.
For Taylor’s call, that took 1 minute, 6 seconds.
“He’s trying to break into my house,” Taylor said in the call. “Is someone coming soon?”
The situation began to escalate 24 seconds later into her call. Andrews had started banging on Taylor’s door, yelling, shouting and throwing things.
“Do not approach the person,” the dispatcher warned. “We’re going to dispatch an officer as soon as possible.”
At 5 minutes, 33 seconds, the dispatcher told Taylor police were on the way.
By that time, the incident had escalated into what would be considered a Priority 1 call, but it was still classified as a Priority 2.
Neal said dispatchers had to wait for radio traffic to stop on a Priority 1 call — which took precedence — before they could direct officers to Taylor’s address.
At the same time that Andrews was trying to break into Taylor’s house, a tractor-trailer had wrecked on Interstate 40 and was straddling both sides of the freeway. Neal said officers needed to shut down the highway.
“Two traffic units go there and were trying to line up assistance to shut down the interstate,” Neal said.
Had Taylor’s 911 call initially been classified as a Priority 1, dispatchers would have used another channel, Neal explained. That way, both Priority 1 calls could be dealt with at the same time.
As things were, the Priority 1 tractor-trailer emergency outranked the Priority 2 situation that was developing at Taylor’s house.
Once officers were dispatched to her house, they got there in less than five minutes, faster than the typical response time for a call in District 4, the city’s largest police district.
Still, that left Taylor on the phone with dispatchers for an agonizing 9 minutes, 17 seconds before police arrived.